Ten years ago, Lori Coulter launched her eponymous St. Louis-based swimwear collection with a grand announcement of a partnership with Macy’s. The major department store deal was a surprise coup for a fashion newcomer.
Today, Coulter is among the entrepreneur apparel designers deftly bypassing traditional retail outlets.
Direct-to-consumer e-commerce models continue to chip away at retail dollars with crushing effects for department stores.
Coulter and Reshma Chamberlin co-founded a swimwear brand, Summersalt, with the backing of an investor group and launched it May 23. Coulter says her company had to hit the reset button to figure out how to appeal to customers spending more and more time online.
Summersalt, at gosummersalt, isn’t just a new brand; Coulter says it had a new attitude.
She founded her company with “TrueMeasure” technology that included 3-D digital body scanning and made-to-measure swimsuits delivered in four to six weeks. Meanwhile, Summersalt items can be purchased online and shipped the next day.
Coulter has long since closed her body imaging booths, but her ready-to-wear Lori Coulter brand remains online. The designer won’t commit to ending her namesake brand, but she says that she’s not putting much energy behind it these days. The styles are more conservative, and she said the customer for them skews a bit older.
Currently, all but one item on her loricoulter e-commerce page has been deeply discounted.
The site also handles her private label business and custom uniforms that have been lucrative for the brand.
The new Summersalt line has more of an athleisure influence that’s sporty and playful to appeal to adventure seekers, she said. So far, Coulter said sales have been good (“in the thousands” was as detailed as she’d get in discussing the line’s $95 swimsuits). She’s waiting for more stock to replenish sold-out items from the New York manufacturer producing her line.
As luck would have it, just as she was preparing to launch the brand, one of the nation’s biggest e-commerce distribution centers opened a warehouse in St. Louis. The Quiet Logistics facility in Hazelwood will be handing the shipping of merchandise.
Coulter said that the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The distribution center opened a little over a month ago, around the time she launched the new line.
The company is headquartered at the T-Rex building downtown, with nine employees including Coulter and Chamberlin.
Appetite for Sugarfire barbecue grows
After announcing a recent eastward expansion to Indianapolis, Sugarfire Smoke House will soon be opening in O’Fallon, Ill. The barbecue restaurant is a three-time member of the Post-Dispatch food critic Ian Froeb’s STL 100 list.
There are five locations in Missouri.
The O’Fallon City Council will vote on final approval of the Green Mount Development Group proposal to include the eatery at its July 17 meeting.
According to the agenda, the 3,800-square-foot restaurant will be constructed at 1405 Green Mount Road.
Sugarfire, founded by Master Chef Mike Johnson and partner Christina Fitzgerald, opened in Olivette in 2012.
The operation has since expanded to downtown St. Louis, St. Charles, Valley Park, Washington, Mo., and O’Fallon, Mo. Another outlet is planned for Farmington, Mo.Read more at:formal dresses